No matter their skill level, cyclists have lots of options for routes across Texas. Not all are as grueling as the Fort Davis Scenic Loop, which we feature in the September issue. Here are five other rides that offer beautiful scenery, perhaps a few challenges, and maybe even some historic sites as well.
1. The San Antonio History Scramble
Sometimes the destination is the point of a ride. In this case, make it destinations, as you explore the 16-mile Mission Reach trail system, in San Antonio, which connects four national historic missions: Mission San Juan, Mission Espada, Mission San José, and Mission Concepcion. You don’t even need to bring a bike to follow the San Antonio River between stops, just rent a B-cycle and off you go.
2. The Lost Pines Ramble
Just outside Smithville, in the storied Lost Pines Forest (steadily recovering since the devastating fires of 2011), Park Road 1-C, between popular Bastrop and Buescher state parks, is a 12-mile strip where riders can set their own pace. Those wanting to recharge aerobically can hit the hills hard and speed along the lightly trafficked route. Or pack a picnic and take your time. Keep an eye out for pileated woodpeckers whacking away on burned snags. Skinny tires recommended.
3. Cross Timbers Rails-to Trails
In Parker and Palo Pinto counties, cyclists (as well as hikers and horseback riders) can follow a gentle 20-mile gravel path along a former railroad line between Weatherford and Mineral Wells that was repurposed for recreation and reopened in 1998. Highlights along the picturesque, multiuse trail include scenic lake views and old wooden bridges. Camping is available at Lake Mineral Wells State Park.